We all want to live in a healthy neighbourhood. But how do you know how healthy a neighbourhood is? The answer? With the walkability analysis tool for healthy neighbourhoods, aka, the walkability score tool. This tools helps spatial planners and health officials to better understand the health-determining aspects of a neighbourhood. 

On behalf of the Flemish Institute for Healthy Living, VITO developed the online walkability score tool. It is an online GIS application in which the Flemish people receive information on the walkability score in their neighbourhood. The walkability score is an international concept that indicates how walking-friendly a particular place is. The higher the score in a neighbourhood, the more there will be moved in that area. This concepts was previously mapped out for Flanders by the University of Ghent (Department Geography). VITO expanded this analysis by mapping Brussels as well. In addition, the online tool was developed with the aim of giving local authorities, spatial planners, but also interested citizens insight into the walkability score of their neighbourhood and how this relates to other locations.

Unique instrument

The walkability score tool is a very useful and unique tool. It maps the walkability score for every hectare in Flanders and Brussels. And that is important information, because residents of neighbourhoods with a high walkability score are moving more. Moreover, adults in these neighbourhoods have better blood pressure values and a healthier weight. In addition, a stronger local economy is possible and there are fewer costs for public transport. The walkability score bundles three aspects: the function mix, the residential density and the street connectivity. The function mix examines whether and how the functions and facilities in the neighbourhood are combined, and whether there is a good mix between offices, leisure facilities, schools and shops. The residential density focuses on the number of in habitants per surface area. And the street connectivity indicates whether you can easily go by bike or on foot from point A to B and whether the streets are well connected.